Husband and wife in court with separate lawyers in negligence case

The Scarborough couple accused of keeping an elderly woman in their frigid garage could end up blaming each other, the wife’s lawyer said Tuesday outside a College Park courtroom.

Kwong Yan, 43, and his wife Qi Tan, 28, both wearing orange prison uniforms, appeared in court via video.

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The couple were arrested late last month after police responded to a 911 call from a home near McCowan Road and Finch Avenue East to find Yan’s 68-year-old mother unconscious, malnourished and frostbitten.

The accused have different lawyers in case a conflict arises between them, said Haiyun Wang, Tan’s defence counsel.

“Potentially, they may point fingers at each other,” Wang said. “Just to be safe … that is why they have different counsels. But at the moment, we don’t have that concern.”

The couple, charged with failing to provide necessities of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm, were ordered to appear in court April 14.

Wang said a bail review is underway and the couple could be released on bail by that date.

“They have more than 50 per cent chance of getting released,” she said. “Both have no [previous] records. They’re both law-abiding citizens.”

If released, they will appear in court in person instead of by video, Wang said. If Yan and Tan are convicted, she added, they will face jail time.

The couple was previously denied bail at a hearing on March 1.

Yan’s mother, who suffered a stroke, remains in hospital. She had allegedly lived in the garage since November.

Wang declined to say whether the couple knew about the woman’s condition in the months leading up to their arrest.

Yan, a restaurant cook, and Tan, a furniture factory worker, lived with their 6-year-old daughter.

Tan’s mother, who also lived with the couple, is “very concerned for good reasons,” Wang said.

“She’s all alone looking after the granddaughter.”